Jan 25, 2017

How drug and device companies can scratch each other's backs

Army Medicine / Flickr Creative Commons

An agreement announced Wednesday between drug firm Pacira Pharmaceuticals and medical device company DePuy Synthes shows how the chase for revenue still dominates the health care industry.

The basics: DePuy, part of Johnson & Johnson, makes implants and devices for orthopedic procedures, such as hip and knee replacements. Pacira makes a painkiller called Exparel, which is injected in the patient during surgery to prolong pain relief after the surgery.

According to the deal, DePuy will add more sales reps to peddle Exparel to orthopedic surgeons who use DePuy devices. In exchange for the hopeful boost in revenue, Pacira will pay DePuy a percentage of its Exparel sales. Jason Gerberry, an analyst at Leerink Partners, estimates Pacira will pay DePuy between $10 million and $20 million per year.

Between the lines: Pacira said this deal fits with its "mission" of alleviating the opioid crisis by helping minimize the use of opioids for post-surgical pain. But at its core, this is a way to boost drug sales, and it's unclear if it'll save the health care system any money. Some hospitals and orthopedic surgeons have stopped using Exparel because of its high cost and questionable value, as STAT has reported.

Go deeper

In photos: How coronavirus is impacting cities around the world

Revellers take part in the "Plague Doctors Procession" in Venice on Tuesday night during the usual period of the Carnival festivities, most of which have been cancelled following the coronavirus outbreak in northern Italy. Photo: Andrea Pattaro/AFP via Getty Images

The novel coronavirus has spread from China to infect people in more than 40 countries and territories around the world, killing over 2,700 people.

The big picture: Most of the 80,000 COVID-19 infections have occurred in mainland China. But cases are starting to surge elsewhere. By Wednesday morning, the worst affected countries outside China were South Korea (1,146), where a U.S. soldier tested positive to the virus, Italy (332), Japan (170), Iran (95) and Singapore (91). Just Tuesday, new cases were confirmed in Switzerland, Croatia and Algeria.

See photosArrow2 hours ago - World

Debate night: Candidates' last face-off before Super Tuesday

Sanders, Biden, Klobuchar and Steyer in South Carolina on Feb. 25. Photo: Jim Watson/AFP via Getty Images

Sen. Bernie Sanders wanted to keep his momentum after winning contests in New Hampshire and Nevada, while former Vice President Joe Biden hoped to keep his own campaign alive. The other five candidates were just trying to hang on.

What's happening: Seven contenders for the Democratic presidential nomination were in Charleston, South Carolina, for the tenth debate, just days before the South Carolina primary and a week before Super Tuesday. They spoke, sometimes over each other, about health care, Russian interference in the election, foreign policy the economy, gun control, marijuana, education, and race.

Go deeperArrowUpdated 5 hours ago - Politics & Policy

4 takeaways from the South Carolina debate

Former Vice President Joe Biden, right, makes a point during Tuesday's Democratic presidential debate, while Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders listens. Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

The 10th Democratic debate was billed as the most consequential of the primary thus far, but Tuesday night's high-stakes affair was at times awkward and unfocused as moderators struggled to rein in candidates desperate to make one last splash before Saturday's primary in South Carolina and Super Tuesday.

The big picture: After cementing himself as the Democratic favorite with a sweeping win in Nevada, Sen. Bernie Sanders came under fire as the front-runner for the first time on the debate stage. Former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who will be on the ballot for the first time next Tuesday, was a progressive foil once again, but he appeared more prepared after taking a drubbing at the Nevada debate.